Mythology, the Moon, and the 2017 Solar Eclipse

Winter Moon Raven, by F.T. McKinstry

Winter Moon Raven

 
If you live in the US, particularly in the swath along the width of the country from the northwest to the southeast, you will get a rare and special treat on August 21st: a total eclipse of the sun. In northern Vermont, where I live, we’ll get to see about 60% of it and, miracles of miracles, it’s actually going to be sunny (don’t get me started). I’m ready. I made my own camera obscura, and tried it out. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s cool af; it projects this ghostly mirror image of the sky, trees and sun, like an Otherworld portal or something.

A solar eclipse happens on a new moon, when the moon moves between the earth and the sun and the side turned toward the earth is dark. Needless to say, there’s a wealth of bizarre tales in world mythology explaining a solar eclipse. Given how creepy and unnatural it is when for no apparent reason the life-giving sun goes away, the temperature drops, and animals act weird, it stands to reason that most of these myths are gloomy and apocalyptic, such as dragons or serpents eating the sun, divine punishment, evil omens, and disputes between the gods.

The Source

The Source

Norse mythology tells of a pair of wolves named Hati and Skoll that chase the sun, and will catch it at Ragnarok, the annihilation of the cosmos. A solar eclipse was explained as the sky wolves getting a lucky break and stealing the sun. The solution was to make a lot of noise to scare the beasts away. (Hey, it must have worked; we’re still here.)

On a full moon, the earth is between the moon and the sun. I was born on a full moon. When I was a kid, I doodled and drew every mysterious, strange and beautiful thing that caught my attention, and had a particular fascination for drawing images of the sun and moon aligned and facing each other. I didn’t realize at the time that this is what happens during a full moon…but some part of me did. Since then, the full moon appears often in my paintings.

Here’s to hoping you get a chance to check out the eclipse! Protect your eyes, and watch out for the sky wolves.

 
© F.T. McKinstry 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Return of the Sun

Winter Light

Winter Light, by F.T. McKinstry

What is the true meaning of darkness?
Darkness is the source of light.

~ From The Hunter’s Rede

Wishing everyone a Merry Yule. Enjoy the season!

 
© F.T. McKinstry 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Goblins and Creepy Horses

Lone Mountain Moon

Lone Mountain Moon

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. ~ Albert Einstein

One of my favorite things about writing is bringing the stories into visual art. I find this every bit as challenging as I do writing; in either case, the final product, while possibly beautiful, never matches my imagination. A fantasy novel is a spectacular source of imagery, and all the more interesting to create because it’s made up. The real world has some references, but it can also limit things. There’s a weird sort of comfort in having more stories and paintings in my heart than I’ll ever bring into focus.

Here are some recent creations, inspired by my latest novel Outpost, Book One in The Fylking.

Goblins of Wyrvith Forest

Goblins of Wyrvith Forest

Nasty, foul-mouthed, malevolent creatures, goblins. You would not want to cross their path, let alone offend them. Arcmael, the protagonist of Outpost, does both. He is a seer and a servant of the Fylking, immortal, unseen warlords who hold dominion over the realm. For love of a friend, Arcmael shatters his vows to his immortal masters. This puts him on the bad side of the Otherworld, where most beings revere the Fylking as gods. This includes goblins, who revere nothing.

Truss him up!
Drag him hither!
Bind his limbs!
Make him slither!

Poor Arcmael. The goblins capture him and he must make an even greater sacrifice to escape their palace. But I won’t spoil that.

Between the Worlds

Between the Worlds

Rose Moon

Rose Moon

A while back, I drew a series of images to accompany verses that appear in the Chronicles of Ealiron. This collection is called “The Solar Breath,” and one of the images is called “Rose Moon.” The accompanying verse goes like this:

Rose Moon loves the ancient oak
Strewn with chamomile and light
Tall white horses thundering
O’er meadowsweet and rue.

Recently, while contemplating nothing in particular, this image came to mind, particularly the creepy little horses. Otherworldly, in fact. Aha. I grabbed them, put them into the “Lone Mountain” painting, tricked it out in magical storms and mists, and I got “Between the Worlds.”

No end to the trouble I can get into.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Outpost Cover ArtOutpost, Book One in The Fylking.

A race of immortal warriors who live by the sword.
A gate between the worlds.
Warriors, royals, seers and warlocks living in uneasy peace on one side of the Veil.
Until now.

© F.T. McKinstry 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Winter Light

Winter Light, by F.T. McKinstry

In the north where I live, light in the wintertime is precious. The days are short and the sun hangs low, making it feel like afternoon or evening even in the height of day. The shadows have a long, abiding air about them and the warmth of the sun feels strange, not quite real. Shining brightly, it paints stark white lines on the sleeping trees, brings color from the gray and glitters on the snow and ice. Wildlife responds to the scant warmth with gratitude.

The Otherworld is near.

Photography Prints

© F.T. McKinstry 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Frost Moon

Frost Moon

Frost moon is a Norse name given to a full moon in November. The moon is particularly beautiful and mysterious this time of year, when the leaves are in color, the branches are bare and the winds are cold. A while back I was moved to capture this in an oil painting.

Tonight, we’re there. It’s supposed to snow in my neck of the woods so I might not see it…but I’ll feel it. Wherever you are, enjoy.

© F.T. McKinstry 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Lone Mountain

Pale as the moon casting amethyst and indigo shadows,
Distant as a dream, yet close as light,
A mountain shines through the whispering boughs of a twilit wood.
 

Photography Prints

© F.T. McKinstry 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Story Illustrations: Wizards, Woods and Gods

Wizards, Woods and Gods is a collection of twelve dark fantasy tales exploring the mysteries of the Otherworld through tree and animal lore, magic, cosmos, love, war and mysticism.

I did a series of pen and ink illustrations inspired by some of these stories. Click on the images to zoom and get information about each story.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

© F.T. McKinstry 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Immortal Longing

She had asked the stars, whales, rocks, the sun and moon.

She had asked terns, seals, herrings, crabs, and the white horses that roamed the cliffs on the western coast of Waleis.

She had asked the trees and the north wind.

She had asked the dead, their pale eyes staring.

She had even asked the beryl spire focusing the energies of the earth into a mighty web.

But nothing in Ealiron’s creation knew where the mortal shell of her child had gone.

Until one came, bearing news.

As she released the snow-white gull to the north, her immortal lover twinkled with the silence of deep winter on the hard, gray land.

 
Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Legends of sailors and wizards collide when an Otherworld being discovers its destiny in a mortal’s imagination. The Gray Isles, Book Two in the Chronicles of Ealiron.

 
© F.T. McKinstry 2013. All Rights Reserved.

The River

The Mage's Tower

A deep river flows by the mage’s tower.
The water, gray, green and yearning for the sea,
Gropes at the foundations with swirling fingers.
Stone is patient.
The mage’s woman dips her bucket into the course;
She is weeping again.
The river catches her tears and knows
Water is more patient than stone.
Frogs call the rain;
The tide, though distant, hears all water.
The moon whispers it.
Night pours down from an unseen shroud,
Lifting the river above the reeds
To the tower stones, cold as the mage’s heart.
The river does not respond to words, gestures
Or sigils.
It cradles the woman’s boat
Like a womb,
Rising, falling, spinning her away
From the echoes of the tower’s fall.

 
Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

“The River” was originally published in Volume 9, Issue 4 of Tales of the Talisman. This magazine features fine writers and artists of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Check it out.

Photography Prints

© F.T. McKinstry 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Gods and Cats

Love is whole. Love cannot be divided from itself. Love knows all paths, where even gods and cats are blind. – From The Old One’s Domain

The greater a wizard’s power, the bigger his problems—and the higher the price he pays for not attending to them.

Order of Raven, by F.T. McKinstry

Standard for the Order of Raven

Urien of Eyeroth belongs to the highest order of the Keepers of the Eye, a hierarchical order of wizards who maintain balance in the world of Ealiron. He has the ability to shapeshift into flora, fauna, earth, or fog. He can cast an apparition or merge with the minds of gods. He knows the Dark Tongue, a primeval language spoken by the votaries of the Old One.

He also has a broken heart. And it has driven him to make some lousy decisions.

Excerpt

Raven at Night, by F.T. McKinstryUrien of Eyeroth, a Master of the Eye of the Order of Raven, hurried along the winding forest path beneath a sky shrouded in midnight. Restless wind stirred the trees, and the air smelled of rain and moldering leaves. The light from his torch painted the barren forest in shades of his own reflection, black-haired, gray-eyed and pale for want of a touch. He pulled his cloak close, unable to determine which made him more uncomfortable: the dreary woods or the new moon settling onto his heart like a cloud of moths.

Earlier, he had been ensconced in a comfortable chamber high in the citadel of Eyrie, home of the Keepers of the Eye, reading a text on the principles of structure and formlessness. He had not wanted to leave when the sun descended into the mists, and dusk cloaked the land in damp, unpleasant cold. But he had agreed, under the hollow gaze of the high priestess Wilima, to look into the Void.

He had to ignore his unease that something bad would happen if he did not.

Water Dark, a tale of desire and deception told on a fairy-tale landscape of arcane texts, herbal lore, visions and disasters at the hands of the powerful.
 
© F.T. McKinstry 2013. All Rights Reserved.